People's tribunal on condition of UP Muslim weavers in Varanasi tomorrow
By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,
New Delhi: Globalization, inflow of Chinese fabrics and technical advancement have left about two lakh Muslim weavers in Uttar Pradesh jobless. A good number of them resorted to rickshaw pulling by taking rickshaw on loan from bank. Many could not repay the loan and committed suicide. In this background human and civil rights groups are holding people's tribunal on the socio-economic and educational conditions of the state weavers and artisans on November 18 in Varanasi.
The tribunal will be chaired by Ms. Sayeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission of India. The report of the tribunal will be sent to the Prime Minister through Ms Hameed.
Giving details to TwoCircles.net, Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, Convener, People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), one of the organizers of the "People's Tribunal on situation of Education and development among Muslim Weavers and Artisan", said weavers and artisans from Varanasi, Tanda, Azamgarh, Mau and Ghazipur districts of UP are attending the tribunal. Poor and neglected people from the Muslim community, who are not weaver by profession, have also been invited to the program.
"We are working for implementation of the PM's 15-point Program that has provisions for economic and educational development of the minority community and this section of people especially, in this part of the state. We are also working for measures to check communal riots that often take place in Varanasi and other areas," said Dr Lenin.
Besides PVCHR, other groups holding this joint tribunal are Voice of people (VOP), Bunkar Dastakar Adhikar Manch (BDAM), Nalanda, a local Muslim group, and Citizen Front.
About socio-economic and educational conditions of Muslim weavers in Varanasi, Dr Lenin said: Their condition here is very worse. About 1.5-2 lakh weavers are no longer weavers by profession. We help poor people get rickshaw on loan from bank for livelihood. In Varanasi, 40% of such loanees from Punjab National Bank were weavers in the past. Their pockets are devoid of basic civic amenities. The trade of power loom and handloom is in danger of getting extinct. In Varanasi there are 40% Muslims, of them 70% are in the trade of weaving.
Asked about the reasons of this situation, Dr Lenin said the government did not plan to rehabilitate the traditional weavers and artisans when technological advancement was coming. Also, Chinese fabrics are inflowing and this has virtually destroyed the power loom and handloom sector.
Has the government woken up to the reality and is now doing for the poor weavers and are their schemes of central or state government for these people in Varanasi?
"Yes, the government has launched cluster scheme. They have also waived the electricity due of power looms but not of handlooms. Handlooms workers and owners are in heavy debt. Many have committed suicide," said Dr Lenin. In their pockets there is no scheme for nutrition of children, consequently many children are dying of malnutrition, he added.
Is the tribunal going to hear some specific cases of Muslim weavers?
The victims of the police firing in Bajadeeha in Varanasi around Holi will testify. The police had opened fire killing two Muslim youths and injuring eight others. The riot was just averted. This was one sided action. No action against those defaced mosques was taken. The victim families are very disturbed. We will also raise the case of death of five weaver family children due to malnutrition.
What will be their next step after holding the people's tribunal?
"We will send our report to the PM through Sayeda Hameed. We will impress upon politicians and parliamentarians to raise the issue in Parliament," said Dr Lenin.
Dr Lenin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org